Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Plath: Beauty for Beauty's Sake

An Appearance

The smile of iceboxes annihilates me.
Such blue currents in the veins of my loved one!
I hear her great heart purr.

From her lips ampersands and percent signs
Exit like kisses.
It is Monday in her mind: morals

Launder and present themselves.
What am I to make of these contradictions?
I wear white cuffs, I bow.

Is this love then, this red material
Issuing from the steele needle that flies so blindingly?
It will make little dresses and coats,

It will cover a dynasty.
How her body opens and shuts --
A Swiss watch, jeweled in the hinges!

O heart, such disorganization!
The stars are flashing like terrible numerals.
ABC, her eyelids say.

Sylvia Plath

This is dated 4 April 1962. Plath wrote another half-dozen poems in the following couple weeks.

Her daughter Frieda had just turned two and she got one of those springy rocking horses for her birthday. Ted and Sylvia were doing a lot of redecorating in and outside their home. Their friend and neighbor Percy was to fall ill soon, his death and funeral inspiring the excellent long poem Berck-Plage.

The daughter of a local businessman stopped by frequently to borrow recordings and chat about poetry; Sylvia once espied Ted and her outside on the walkway... maybe it was nothing. Plath was predisposed to jealousy, but then again, Ted was a womanizer.

I suspect that this poem is one of Plath's "child" poems. Though I have not yet and probably never will settle upon an interpretation of it, I am struck by its lyricism and free tercets; hallmarks of her incredible Ariel voice.

With Ted and his parents, 1956.

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